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The Reconfiguration of a Latecomer Innovation System

Governing Pharmaceutical Biotechnology Innovation in South Korea

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Dirk Johann

The book examines the evolving governance of pharmaceutical biotechnology in South Korea in order to derive conclusions about the dynamics of a latecomer system transition. Based on an analysis of innovation activities in the biomedical sector, which is complemented by expert interviews, the research contends that the Korean post-developmental state should be geared towards coordinating the interplay of technologies, modes of organization and institutions. An integrative framework is developed to describe system change as a co-evolutionary process in which the national and sectoral dimensions intersect. The case shows that the shaping of an environment in which innovation systems can develop sectoral transformative capacity is a central aspect of latecomer innovation governance.

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6 Conclusions and final considerations

Extract

This research was motivated by a general dissatisfaction with existing conceptualisations o f the adaption o f latecomer innovation systems to the globalisation o f technological innovation. In our research we developed a perspective on how the accommodation o f the advances o f biotechnology research in Korea's industrial structure operates as a driving factor behind the institutional reshaping o f the post-War developmental state model. We departed from the assumption that the configuration o f national institutional arrangements is strongly influenced by historical contingencies. Therefore it is difficult to transfer the Korean experience to other latecomers that are undergoing a transition from a developmental state to an innovation state. Although other late developers are facing similar coordination challenges in overcoming the specific entry barriers o f industrial sectors in which dynamics are shaped by the global spread o f science-driven technologies, there is only limited scope for replicating Korea's transition to a post-developmental state in other historically grown institutional environments. In other words, there is no single silver bullet to switch towards an innovation state. System reconfiguration is a co-evolutionary transformative process that requires coherent changes in several different regards, both in terms of policies and governance and in terms o f systemic linkages. The analysis revealed several aspects that may inform the development of a general framework on post catch-up system change. From the governance of pharmaceutical biotechnology as a disruptive technology (Christensen, 1997) we can derive several conclusions about the multi-faceted transformative dynamics o f a latecomer...

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